INDIANAPOLIS — A candlelight vigil and balloon release was held Saturday on Indy’s east side in the neighborhood where 12-year-old Day’Shawn Bills was shot Thursday morning.
Bills was inside his grandmother’s home playing video games with cousins when he was hit by a bullet fired from outside the home. He was the youngest of seven people inside the home when the shooting happened and the only person struck by the gunfire.
Family members told FOX59 Bills died at 5 p.m. Friday at the hospital, more than one day after the shooting.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says they believe this was the result of a drive-by shooting, but the motive remains unclear.
On Saturday, dozens of family, friends and community activists gathered to mourn the loss of Bills. They remembered him through prayer, shared happy memories and demanded justice in his name.
“Lord, we’re standing here on behalf of a baby, God, prematurely snatched from our grips, God,” said Antonio Patton, a community activist in Indianapolis.
Patton delivered a prayer and emotionally called for a stop to violence in the community. He also asked for healing for the families impacted by the loss of this child.
Bills’ cousin, Latoya Marlin, said Bills will be remembered for his big personality and a smile that could light up any room.
“Day’Shawn was just your everyday 12-year-old,” she said. “There’s no words how we’re feeling, what we’re going through right now.”
In honor of his favorite color, blue, family asked that people coming to the vigil wear that color. They also know how much he loved playing basketball, so they made sure to include that too.
“We put his basketball court out here,” said Marlin. “We’re just gonna be together and celebrate him today.”
She said the pain of losing her younger cousin is unfathomable, and it’s only made worse knowing he’s not the first child shot in Indianapolis in 2021.
“We are in the most extreme level of pain that you can imagine. That’s how we feel,” she shared.
Marlin said she wants the community to come together, call police with information and speak up to prevent another family from experiencing this heartache.
“This is a 12-year-old kid. He’s a seventh grader, and he’s just having a sleepover with his grandmother and his cousins, and he’s playing a video game and this,” said Marlin.
“He’s gone. Like, his future’s gone. He won’t go to high school, he won’t go to college.”
Marlin said Bills was the youngest of five siblings. He has four older sisters that are having trouble coping with the loss of their baby brother.
“We cannot go another day, we can’t go another year, we can’t keep going on like this. Something has to change,” she expressed. “We aren’t the only families that have been affected by gun violence here in our city.”
On Thursday, city leaders, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor and anti-violence community leaders, held a press conference to address the community after the shooting.
“This cannot be the lived experience of families in our city, anywhere in our city. That is why the city, IMPD, elected officials, community anti-violence groups, church groups and individuals throughout the community are doing everything we can to address the spike in violence in Indianapolis,” said Mayor Hogsett.
Chief Taylor said this incident was “a boy just hanging out with family, ends up getting shot. It’s highly unlikely the 12-year-old was the target. But when we’re at the point where people are shooting into homes not thinking about consequences, that’s a problem. I’m praying for this young man.”
No arrests have been announced in this case. Both family and IMPD are asking anyone with information to call IMPD at 317-327-3475 or contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS, where you can always remain anonymous.